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Better Batteries from Berkeley Lab’s Work with Industry

Berkeley Lab battery scientist Marca Doeff, in the lab with scanning electron microscope. (Photo by Kelly Owen/Berkeley Lab)

Until recently, it was often difficult for private industry to take advantage of Berkeley Lab’s resources. That has changed with CalCharge, a unique public-private partnership uniting the California Bay Area’s emerging and established battery technology companies with critical academic and government resources.

New Battery Startup Promises Safe Lithium Batteries

Two of Blue Current's three co-founders, Nitash Balsara (left) and Alex Teran. (Photo courtesy Blue Current)

Berkeley Lab battery scientist Nitash Balsara has worked for many years trying to find a way to improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. Now he believes he has found the answer in a most unlikely material—a class of compounds that has mainly been used for industrial lubrication.

New Design Tool for Metamaterials

Xiang Zhang  new feature

Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that it is possible to predict the nonlinear optical properties of metamaterials using a recent theory for nonlinear light scattering when light passes through nanostructures.

Rediscovering Spontaneous Light Emission


LEDs could replace lasers for short-range optical communications with the use of an optical antenna that enhances the spontaneous emission of light from atoms, molecules and semiconductor quantum dots.

Piezoelectricity in a 2D Semiconductor

Xiang Zhang feature MoS2

Berkeley Lab researchers have opened the door to low-power off/on switches in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectronic devices, as well as ultrasensitive bio-sensors, with the first observation of piezoelectricity in a free standing two-dimensional semiconductor.

Making a Good Thing Better: Berkeley Lab Researchers Open a Possible Avenue to Better Electrolyte for Lithium Ion Batteries

X-ray absorption spectra, interpreted using first-principles electronic structure calculations, provide insight into the solvation of the lithium ion in propylene carbonate. (Image courtesy of Rich Saykally, Berkeley)

Berkeley Lab researchers carried out the first X-ray absorption spectroscopy study of a model electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries and may have found a pathway forward to improving LIBs for electric vehicles and large-scale electrical energy storage.

Switching to Spintronics


Berkeley Lab researchers used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature, a demonstration that points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

A Better Look at the Chemistry of Interfaces

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SWAPPS – Standing Wave Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy – is a new X-ray technique developed at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source that provides sub-nanometer resolution of every chemical element to be found at heterogeneous interfaces, such as those in batteries, fuel cells and other devices.

Sweet Smell of Success: JBEI Researchers Boost Methyl Ketone Production in E. coli

Methyl ketones were discovered more than a century ago in the aromatic evergreen rue plant. They are now used to provide scents in essential oils and flavoring in cheese, but JBEI research shows they could also serve as advanced biofuels. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

JBEI researchers have engineered E. coli bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel.

Two Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows


Two Berkeley Lab scientists, climate scientist William Collins and chemist Heinz Frei, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2014.